Review by idiotman7

"Move over world, Gears has come to play"

It's hard for video games to live up to hype in this day and age. With gaming magazines, television, talk on the street or at work, and online message boards, the games that are made to be an industry changer, more and more seem to just fall on their faces. Few games can take the heat of hell sets upon them, and live to its supposedly above the sky standards. Gears of War, is one of those few games.

From the start, Gears was supposed to be the Halo killer. A game that could do everything thing it possibly could to out flash the Halo series which has been the bar for all shooters in recent years. Probably the biggest difference in this game and so many other shooters that have tried to out class Halo, GoW is third person. With the camera always right over your characters shoulder, much like Resident Evil 4, the world is a little easier to see and for some may take away from getting the, in the middle of the action, feel. Personally I loved the camera over the shoulder camera, unlike I did in RE4, and thought that it added a whole new depth and excitement to the game, using it to see over obstacles and blind firing was incredibly realistic and the game just wouldn't be the same without it.

Adding to the games uniqueness is its system of fighting. Health isn't tracked by bars and a shield; you won't find any med kits lying around here. Instead Gears takes a cue from Call of Duty 2, and uses a Crimson Omen, if your hit to many times, a cog shape will appear on the screen slowly filling with blood and skull shape until you are dead. To not die, you simply have to find cover and wait to gradually heal. Which is another thing GoW put emphasis on, the use of cover. Unlike your traditional shooting game, the “run and gun” through the entire game scenario, doesn't come into play here. Instead the game requires you to use strategy, moving from cover to cover in hopes of defeating your enemies, much like another fantastic 360 game, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.

The cover to cover system flows wonderfully in Gears though, Being able to blind fire, come off for a few seconds for accurate shots and go back, ducking, spinning from cover to cover, and the ever faithful “roadie run” which is where the camera goes low to the ground and you duck and run to the nearest cover, or just to run faster.

Weapons wise, GoW isn't all that impressive. Nothing really unique, with the exception of the Hammer of Dawn, which is a godly gun that uses satellites to fire a ray of destruction onto a target, but it can only be used at certain times, and the torque bow, which is a bow and arrow type weapon which has a one hit kill charged shot if your hit. Along with the standard pistol, snipers, grenade launchers, shotguns and rifles, probably the only truly unique thing about the weapons in Gears is… well… There is a freckin chainsaw on one of the guns! That's right! A freckin chainsaw! An enemy just isn't going down? Get right up in his face and rip that sucker to shreds, and watch his blood spew all across the screen! Also adding a new swing into things for its weapons is its reloading process. While you could do the boring thing and wait for it to manually reload, wasting precious time, if you time it correctly, you can get a much faster reload and get back to kicking ass faster, but time it wrong, and you will spend even more time un-jamming your gun, thereby risking your life.

But what's risking your life, if it doesn't have meaning behind it? While short and a little lackluster for what could have been an epic, Gears of Wars story is amazing. You take the role of Marcus Fenix, a former soldier and prisoner who is freed so he may aid in the fight against a species known as Locust, vile alien creatures that come up from under ground, destroying anything and everyone. The world or Sera is in ruins from the Locust invasion. Over 80% of the population is dead, and more are dyeing every minute. The last safe haven for humanity is facing an unenviable attack, and anyone who can shoot a gun is being drafted to fight.

As stated before you take the role of Marcus, you lead a four man squad which consist of your best friend Dominic “Dom” Santiago, who the second player will be during co-op, Augustus "Cole Train" Cole, a sports hero before the war, linebacker in a game probably much like football, number 83, always with a witty battle chant, and ready to play attitude. Finally Damon Baird, probably the stand out of the group, just because of his ruff and hostile attitude at the beginning, but you will quickly come to find out he is probably the smartest of the four and can fix almost anything. Together you form Delta squad, and together you must end this war.

While you may take a liking to the characters and the freckin chainsaw in Gears of War, one of the more un-talked about elements is its fantastic voice acting. Cole alone should be up for some kind of award, just for his humor, but all the characters, big and small, human and Locus, have incredibly realistic voices and match very well with the person or creature saying them. Although Marcus's macho tuff guy attitude was a little cheesy, you had to have it cause having a scared confused dweb just wouldn't be the same.

If you think that the voice acting is good though, wait until you play in surround sound, jerking from side to side from the intensity of the bullets whirling past your head, and explosions all around you. Just imagine jumping behind a car and slowly pushing it closer to your enemy for a better shot, with the scraping of the rusted metal on the broken pavement, causing you to wince for a few seconds. All of the movements you make look and sound as if Gears was rea. The weapons all sound incredibly realistic, from the swift whiz of the arrow from a torque bow, to the revving of the chainsaw. The head banging intense beats that the game is constantly pumping out, whether it being running for your life from a monstrous berserker, or in the middle of a huge fire fight with Locus popping up all around you, and blood thirsty kryll flying around your head in the darkness, all help the game flow perfectly. The action and music go hand in hand the entire game and feed off each other to set the pace for the game.

The downside to the entire single player/coop is that it is rather short, and if committed it could take you less than a day to beat. Difficulty wise, easy and hard are walks in the park for any regular shooter gamer, Insane is a little more difficult and will probably give you some trouble during the first couple missions, but even then it shouldn't take that long to complete once you get the hang of it. Look past that though there really isnt any fault.

But looking past the single player, we head to probably GoW's biggest asset. Its ground-breaking online play. Players from around the world all came together and played against each other to help Gears overtake Halo 2 for the most popular game on X-Box Live, in less than two weeks.

What makes it so great you ask? Well while there arn't numerous types of matches to play, the constant action in each one greatly makes up for it. You have Warzone, which pits humans against Locus in a Team Deathmatch that goes on for a set number of rounds, Execution which is very similar to Warzone except you must kill your opponent in a certain way, such as stomping on his head or hitting him point blank with a weapon. Finally Assassination which requires teams to kill the other teams leader, while protecting their own.

Upon its release, Gears of War quickly became the must have game for all 360 owners. Its eerie realistic graphics, the over the top action and fantastic story line, all made for this game to be one you can play by yourself and still have a great time. Added in is the fact you can pair up with a friend and play the entire game through and through with them is just an added bonus. As if that wasn't enough for Gears, it has some of the most fast paced and drug like addictive online play, which some say surpasses Halo. In a short six weeks the game sold over two million copies and has claimed the prize of fastest selling 360 game out.

Gears of War is the game out right now and if you're a 360 owner, this is a must have. There is no doubt in my mind that GoW is game of the year, despite having Zelda Twilight Princess as competition. We didn't choose this war, but it's up to us to finish it. So sit back, pick up a gun, and prepare for one of the most breath-taking games in the history of gaming.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/03/07

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